Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/185

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pore over big ledgers, successors of other ledgers, dating from mediæval times, and sit on high stools facing high desks. A place where plate glass, gold lettering, Persian rugs, page boys in buttons, silver-plated ice-pitchers, and stuffed morocco chairs are unknown; where the very atmosphere reeks with musty traditions, and where at night myriads of ghosts, whose names and deeds are world-famous, stalk through the dusty lofts or hobnob with the shades of the presses that gave them life.

"Wait until I get my hat," was the quick reply of a member of the Real Publishing House, "and I'll go with you." (This, remember, in the busiest part of the day.)

Into the cab again. Two of us now. Along Covent Garden in full view of the very spot where Tom Pinch and his sister Ruth did their marketing, dodging the empty waggons, and so on to Wellington Street, Strand.

"There, sir"—and he pointed to the windows as seen in my sketch—"there was the editor's office of All the Year Round, and in that very room I used to carry Mr. Dickens's proofs when I was a boy. Our firm, as you know, were his publishers, and that is how I happen to know."

And then he recalled for me the several books, some of the proofs having passed through his own hands during the days covering the period of Mr. Dickens's editorship from 1859 to the time of his death—a long and interesting list covering "A Tale of Two Cities," "Great Expectations," and some of his shorter stories, including "Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings," "Dr. Marigold's Prescriptions," "Mugby Junction," "No Thoroughfare," "The Uncommercial Traveller," and some others—giving me, too, out of the wealth of his